Hometown kings: Calabarzon nips NCR to reclaim Palaro hoops throne
LAGUNA, Philippines - The hometown kings are on top anew.
Struggling all tournament long from the outside, host region Calabarzon exploded from three-point land and hit key baskets in the clutch to reclaim the Palarong Pambansa secondary boys basketball crown.
The San Beda Red Cubs-powered hosts almost squandered a 22-point cushion but were able to deliver the most important baskets in the clutch to oust National Capital Region, 86-80
on Saturday, May 10 inside the packed Main Gymnasium of the Laguna Sports Complex.
"We couldn't hit the outside baskets all week long. Luckily, the law of averages finally came into play and we were able to connect on threes in this championship," said Calabarzon head coach JB Sison, whose team relied on six triples in the first half to build a lead.
Calabarzon took control of the first half with Marc Joper Diputado and Benjamin De Villeres combining for 5 triples in the first half. A Norrish Decapia buzzer-beating putback capped a sensational first half for the hosts and shoved the lead to 55-42.
In the third quarter, Diputado and big man EJ Furaque tried to go for the kill, rifling a blistering 9-0 run that gave Calabarzon their biggest lead at 64-42.
NCR seemed done for the day, but just when people thought Calabarzon would be able to put the game away, the Big City bets started an uprising of their own.
Behind the efforts of hardworking big Justin Serrano, NCR unleashed a 10-0 blitz in the next three minutes to bring down the deficit to just 52-64 in the next few minutes.
NCR kept fighting hard, knocking on the doors while trying to erase the agony of their finals loss against Central Visayas last year in Dumaguete.
Trailing at 64-76 in the final 6 minutes of the payoff period, Jarrell Lim, Manuel Mosqueda, Lorenzo Battad, and Cyprian Castillo all joined hands as the Big City bets uncorked another surge, this time a 12-2 run capped by two huge triples from Castillo that made it just a two-point game, 76-78.
However, Diputado delivered the goods for Calabarzon.
The incoming 4th year high school student scored on back to back layups in the clutch even as Castillo missed a crucial outside bomb on the other end to lift his crew, 82-78 with 32.8 seconds left.
NCR's Lim and Calabarzon's JR Gumtang exchanged points from the stripe, 84-80 before misses by Castillo and Dandan in the final 7.7 ticks spelled doom for NCR.
Franz Abuda converted on the final two free throws as Calabarzon walked away with the gold for the first time in three years. They also avenged a semifinals setback against the same squad last year.
"NCR is a tough team so we did not expect that we could win it all," said Diputado, who topscored with 19 points including three from long range.
"We just focused on our defense and we were able to find the open shots."
Gumtang added 13 markers.
In the first game, Central Visayas edged Western Visayas, 84-78 to bag the bronze. NCR took home the secondary girls crown over Central Luzon, 77-54 while Calabarzon made it two in a row on championship day as the elementary cagers edged Cagayan Valley, 77-73.